Authors: Maggie Marr
Tags: #FIC027020 FICTION / Romance / Contemporary; FIC044000 FICTION / Contemporary Women
“Where’s Ryan?” Charla couldn’t help but interrupt. If Trevor was back from helping with the fire and evacuation of the guestrooms, then Ryan should soon follow.
“He got caught up talking to some firemen after the all-clear. Something he saw in administration. They wanted to talk to him about it. He should be back soon.”
Trevor dipped his head and kissed Poppy again. He pulled away and looked into Poppy’s eyes.
“Charla, I’m going to stay at Trev’s.”
Charla lifted her hand and waved to the couple. They had their arms around each other’s waists and their heads tilted toward one another. Poppy and Trevor were deeply in love. How could a person as smart as Poppy not see that? Or maybe Poppy did know. Maybe she fully understood that her feelings for Trevor weren’t casual. Maybe Poppy’s depth of feeling for Trevor was the very reason why she had already purchased her ticket to Hong Kong for the day after her contract at Mesquale ended.
From the way Trevor and Poppy looked at each other, Charla couldn’t imagine that Poppy would be able to leave or that Trevor would let her go. Poppy and Trevor might be leaving Mesquale in a few months, but they definitely wouldn’t be leaving each other.
Charla pushed the cart toward the staff commissary entrance. Once inside, she unloaded the coffee machines and then left to go to bed. Would Ryan figure out that he was welcome to stay with her since Poppy was staying with Trevor? He had to know that. They’d both talked about their feelings last night when walking back to Mesquale.
So what was this hesitation? This fear? These heavy feelings that were lodged in her chest when it came to Ryan? Perhaps because he’d lost his one true love? Or was it Charla’s fear that Ryan had another truth he needed to share with her? Her own unhealthy desire to turn a blind eye to her doubts for fear that she’d be confronted by lies from the person she loved?
Charla opened the commissary door to leave. Her eyelids were much too heavy and her mind much too foggy with a need for sleep to figure out her doubts about Ryan right now.
“Mr. Antigua, we’ve determined that accelerant was used inside your office to start this fire.”
Ryan looked around to be certain it was only he, Antoine, the fire chief, and Steven, Mesquale’s chief of security, who stood in the break room on the edge of the administrative suite of offices. Steven’s gaze slid toward Ryan, but he indicated no surprise at Ryan’s presence.
“Are you saying someone set this fire?” Antoine asked.
“I can’t say that definitively,” Chief Fareani said. “But if I were a guessing man, I would say yes, someone set the fire. We’ll know more once our investigation is complete. I think someone came in here and tried to burn down all of Mesquale, or at the very least your office. Do you have anyone angry with you? With Mesquale?”
Antigua and Ryan locked eyes. “Steven, go get Virgin Airline’s manifest for this morning’s flight off Mesquale. See if Mr. Orso made his plane.”
“Yes, sir,” Steven dipped his head, spoke quietly into the microphone on his wrist and then slipped out of the break room.
“We have an employee who was terminated yesterday, a man who was disgruntled about our decision. Really, if this fire was intentionally set, I can think of no other suspect but him.”
“Let me talk to the police officers on scene,” Chief Fareani said. “They’ll want to know about this employee and where he might be located for questioning.”
Ryan preferred a baseball bat and time to hunt Orso down himself.
Fire Chief Fareani walked out of the break room and toward the door that led outside.
“You realize,” Antoine said to Ryan, “that our chief of security now knows who you are, and if the Parpetai police become involved, you’ll need to reveal your true identity to them.”
“I know.” Ryan only worried about one person finding out before he told her. Charla. He had to tell her now. If she heard of his identity from anyone but him, she might never trust him again.
“Do you believe this was caused by Orso?” Antoine asked.
“If they can prove that accelerant was used, I don’t know who else. Do you? I mean, is there any other person who is this unhappy at Mesquale that they would try to set a fire that might injure hundreds of guests?”
“I’m going to try and get some rest,” Ryan said. “I’m meant to be at The Banana Boat by noon. You need some rest as well. Security and the authorities are on it.” Ryan placed his hands to his hips. “I doubt after last night if many guests will stir before eleven.”
Ryan walked toward the break room door and then stopped and turned back. “And will you please order a pump truck for the village of Parpetai? Identical to the one the resort has.”
The muscle in Antoine’s jaw flexed. “You realize the expense? I believe, from looking at the records, the resort spent close to a million dollars U.S., and that was four years ago.”
“Call my business manager and have it arranged. He’ll send me the necessary papers to approve the expenditure from my personal funds. We can’t have a town of four thousand using that tiny fire truck. Parpetai is home for many of our staff. The town serves Mesquale in many ways. We must serve the town as well.”
“Consider it done.” Antigua smiled. “I think it’s an excellent expenditure.”
“Also, have administrative staff take over the administrative penthouse apartment.”
“That penthouse is meant to be yours. That’s where the owner stays while in residence at Mesquale.”
“I’ve got a place to stay for now, and hopefully even after I come clean about my identity.” He patted Antoine’s shoulder. “Now I’m off to shower and grab some sleep. Please, Antoine, do the same. The next few days could be very long.”
Ryan walked down the hall toward the back entrance and opened the door. The sun brightened the sky. He looked at the roofline of Mesquale. Above the administrative offices there was now a gaping hole where the fire had burned through the roof. Firefighters and a couple police officers poked through debris and kicked pieces of burnt wood. Such a mess. He turned onto the path that led to the staff dorms. He needed to get the smoke smell off his skin and crawl into bed beside a wonderful warm body. He wanted to lay down beside a woman with whom he believed he was in love.
Warm lips pressed to Charla’s mouth. He smelled of soap, and his hair was still wet. Her eyes fluttered open. “Ryan,” she whispered. “How’d you get in?”
“Poppy gave me her key. I wanted to surprise you.” He ran his fingers up under her silk nightgown. He cupped her breast. “Too tired?” His His lips kissed along the edge of her jaw and down her neck. Ryan’s thumb circled her taut nipple.
“No, not too tired for you.” Her hips hitched up toward Ryan.
She doubted she’d ever choose sleep over the pleasure of Ryan’s hands on her body. He pulled her silk nightgown over her head, and his lips slipped down the center of her neck and to her right breast. He pulled her nipple deep into his mouth. Hot and wet, he rolled his tongue around her. Want thrummed through her. His fingertip stroked over her sex. The ache, the desire, clasped her body.
He slid a finger deep into her sex. “Baby, you’re wet for me.”
She was. God, she was. Her sex clenched around his finger. She pulled his sweatpants over his hips. Her hands grasped the hard muscle of his ass. He shifted and kicked off his sweats. His cock, long and thick and hard, was in front of her. She wanted him. She sat up and leaned forward. She stroked down his shaft. His skin was taut and smooth like stretched velvet.
“Oh, Charla,” he whispered, with a long, slow hiss of breath.
She pulled him into her mouth. Her tongue flicked over the tip and licked the salty pre-come from the head of his cock. Shadows of lust clung to his jaw and hooded his eyes. He wanted her.
She took all of him into her mouth. Opening her throat, he slid deep into her throat. Her tongue stroked his shaft and her mouth suctioned tight around him. She slid her lips back from the base of his shaft. Her hands grasped him and followed her lips.
“Charla, oh my God.”
His belly muscles tightened. Again, her tongue swirled around the head of his cock, and she pulled harder with her mouth. His whole body tensed. She pressed her lips back down his shaft, this time faster. His balls were soft and fragile in her hand. With a gentle grasp, she squeezed. His hips moved forward and back, one hand on her shoulder and one hand woven into her hair.
“Oh, Charla, I’m going to come, baby. I’m going to come.”
He moved faster, and she took all of him deep into her throat. His cock pulsed. The vein on the back throbbed. His entire body tightened. The hot, earthy, sweet-salty taste of come jetted into her throat. She swallowed and swallowed again, taking all of him.
Ryan fell forward, leaning over her. She pulled her mouth along his shaft, her tongue slowly circling the head of him one final time. His body trembled.
He pulled her up to his mouth and kissed her, then he looked into her eyes. “Baby, that felt so good.”
His kisses peppered her face. He found her lips once more. His hand trailed down her body, and found her wet and swollen clit. She wanted him inside her. She wanted his mouth on her sex. He parted her flesh, and his tongue flicked over her clit.
The edge of need cut sharp with pleasure. Fracturing and splintering while his tongue stroked her sex. He pulled her into his mouth. His tongue circling and circling. The shriek from her lips was unfamiliar and wild. Pleasure wracked her body over and over and over again.
Watching Charla come was pure pleasure. His cock was hard again, no turnaround time necessary. He wanted to push deep inside of her and feel her body around him. Remembering from last night where her box of condoms was located, he reached for the drawer in her nightstand. She grasped one, and he pulled away from her sex. She ripped open the foil and unfolded the condom onto the head of his cock. He pressed to the folds of her entrance. Her hips thrust up as though commanding him to push into her. The deep, tingling sensation started low in his back, a heat building in his balls. He thrust into her.
Charla lifted her legs and wrapped them around him. Yes. Yes. She was his. He would make her scream his name and come. He reached over her head and grabbed the spare pillow from the side of her bed. He lifted her hips and pressed the pillow beneath her.
That beautiful mouth opened in amazement with this position, the deep penetration as he thrust in and out of her sex. He grasped each of her ankles and held her legs out wide. He pressed his thumb to her clit as his cock pulsed in and out of her. She tightened around him.
“Oh my God,” she panted. Her eyes watched him stroke in and out of her. “I’m going to come. Oh my God, Ryan, I’m going to come.”
With her words he drove deep into her. Hard and fast, hard and fast. She pulled her legs from his grasp and wrapped them around him. Her body vibrated.
“I’m coming, Ryan, I’m coming.” Her voice fractured around the final word. Control was lost. The throbbing, burning heat in his balls took over every movement. He rammed into her over and over and over again.
The come burst from his cock. He pressed harder, deeper, once, twice, three times. He fell forward. Deep, long breaths. He pushed up onto his forearms and looked into her eyes. She was beautiful. She was beyond beautiful. His heart cracked the tiniest bit wider. He knew the pain that could race into his heart by letting himself feel for Charla. Could he bear to love again? Could he let his heart be so vulnerable? He looked into Charla’s eyes. Would he survive if something happened to her?
He pulled her close. He couldn’t guard his love against every potential harm. He couldn’t save everyone. He couldn’t live and love filled with fear that death would soon be by his side.
The day after the fire maintenance team and builders worked on reconstructing the roof over the administrative offices. Mr. Antigua had requested that Charla come meet him in the owner’s penthouse suite.
“Just a minute please,” Mary said into the phone. She looked up from her computer, and her gaze met Charla’s.
“I have an appointment with Mr. Antigua.”
“He asked that you meet him at the Versailles Ballroom patio.”
Staff rarely went up to the Versailles unless they were working a wedding or a big event.
“It’s quieter, and we’re having a beautiful day,” Mary said. “And after what’s happened, we need beauty everywhere we can find it. Take the private elevator to the sixth floor.”
A few moments later the lift doors opened onto the sixth floor, just outside the ballroom. Built nearly fifty years before, this room was the largest formal ballroom in all of the Tahitian Islands. Three-story arching windows looked out onto a world-class view of the beach and the ocean and the sky. Gold gilt outlined the ceiling’s fresco paintings. The room looked as though it belonged in a castle and not in a resort in Tahiti. How lucky that the fire hadn’t damaged this ballroom.
She walked across the wood parquet floor and toward the open French doors. Mr. Antigua stood outside on the balcony beside a table set with coffee, juice, pastries, and fruit. He shook Charla’s hand.
“Thank you for meeting with me today.”
Her stomach fluttered. She was smart and a hard worker, but in this moment she felt outclassed and overwhelmed. As though she didn’t know how to speak to someone like Mr. Antigua, her boss, and a man with loads of class. Where was her confidence? Her opinion was just as important as anyone else’s. Wasn’t it?
“Sit. Please. I ordered some breakfast items. Coffee?”
He poured and handed her a cup of the steaming goodness.
“Thank you.” She sipped and examined Mr. Antigua’s face. She hadn’t been this close to him in a still moment. He was always scooting by her or on the move, or she was in the middle of a shift or on her way to a shift when she saw him. Refined was the most accurate way to describe him. And yet he wasn’t aloof. This close, a warmth emanated from him. A goodness. A kindness. Perhaps the new owner of Mesquale did have good taste in management staff. He’d hired Antigua, who seemed to be more than competent, and gotten rid of Orso. Those were two events definitely in the win column for whomever had purchased Mesquale from the Chinese conglomerate.